Basically, everything Skechers told you about its Shape-ups shoes was not true. From Reuters:
Skechers USA Inc has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that it made unfounded claims when it advertised that its "toning shoes" would enable users to get stronger and lose weight. Skechers will pay an additional $5 million to 43 states and the District of Columbia and another $5 million to class action attorneys, the Manhattan Beach, California, company said in a statement.
The Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday the shoe maker was deceptive in the marketing of its Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-ups shoes.
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The settlement with Skechers follows a September 2011 settlement with Reebok International Ltd in which it agreed to pay $25 million to resolve similar charges. Reebok is owned by Adidas.
In both cases, the money will go largely toward consumer refunds.
Toning shoes are designed to be slightly unstable, and manufacturers say the instability requires the wearer to work harder, thus strengthening muscles.
"Skechers' unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles. The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health," said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The Federal Trade Commission has an illuminating roundup of the various fudges and obfuscations Skechers indulged in while peddling their toning shoes to the public:
- A Shape-ups ad telling consumers to "Shape Up While You Walk," and "Get in Shape without Setting Foot in a Gym," and claiming that the shoes are designed to promote weight loss and tone muscles. The FTC alleges that Skechers made unsupported claims that Shape-ups would provide more weight loss, and more muscle toning and strengthening than regular fitness shoes.
- Shape-ups ads with an endorsement from a chiropractor named Dr. Steven Gautreau, who recommended the product based on the results of an “independent” clinical study he conducted that tested the shoes’ benefits compared to those provided by regular fitness shoes. The FTC alleges that this study did not produce the results claimed in the ad, that Skechers failed to disclose that Dr. Gautreau is married to a Skechers marketing executive, and that Skechers paid Dr. Gautreau to conduct the study.
- Shape-ups ads featuring celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke. Airing during the 2011 Super Bowl, the Kardashian ad showed her dumping her personal trainer for a pair of Shape-ups. The Burke ad told consumers that the newest way to burn calories and tone and strengthen muscles was to tie their Shape-ups shoe laces.
- An ad that claims consumers who wear Resistance Runner shoes will increase "muscle activation" by up to 85 percent for posture-related muscles, 71 percent for one of the muscles in the buttocks, and 68 percent for calf muscles, compared to wearing regular running shoes. The FTC alleges that in citing the study that claimed to back this up, Skechers cherry-picked results and failed to substantiate its ad claims.
As always, it's worth remembering that there are no magic wands when it comes to fitness. Diet and exercise will help you get in better shape. A new pair of shoes, generally, won't.